NFL Week 5: 6 Games of Intrigue
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The NFL season is at the quarter post.
We have seen a lot of unexpected things happen.
There are several teams exceeding expectations, and a few falling short.
Week 5 offers several games worthy of attention. Some to see if a team can try to save the season; some to see if teams can keep momentum, and some for the players playing.
Here are six games worthy of watching.
Cincinnati at Jacksonville
Andy Dalton led the Bengals over Buffalo.
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While this Bengals vs. Jaguars game will not be considered a top game, it is a matchup of two rookie quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton has started since Week 1, while Blaine Gabbert got to start in Week 3.
Neither has dazzled with their numbers. Dalton is 27th in passer rating with a 76.9, while Gabbert is 32nd with a 62.9.
The Jaguars are on a three-game losing streak, and Jack Del Rio could feel some heat if his rookie QB doesn't mature fast.
Dalton has been good enough to win twice and led the Bengals to an upset win over Buffalo last week. He has a good rookie WR in A.J. Green. That may be all the edge they need to win.
Philadelphia at Buffalo
Will Andy Reid's seat get hot if the losses continue?
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Both suffered losses last week to teams that most thought should have been easy wins. The Bills lost to the Bengals just one week after their big win over New England, and the Eagles blew another second half lead, this time by 20 points.
They are opposites of each other. The Eagles build a lead, then lose it. The Bills fall behind, then come back.
When the Eagles lost to Atlanta, the Falcons fourth quarter touchdowns ended 80-yard drives. Last week the 49ers' three second half touchdowns were two 77-yard drives, and an 80-yard drive.
In the Bills victory over the Raiders, Buffalo scored 21 in the final quarter. They had 17 against New England.
If this game comes down to the fourth quarter, it favors the Bills.
Oakland at Houston
Can Oakland challenge the Chargers?
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Are the Raiders for real?
Are the Texans for real?
Are the playoffs a possibility for either in 2011?
Both have beaten an AFC finalist already. Oakland beat the Jets, Houston beat Pittsburgh.
Oakland swept the division last year, but won only two other games. They must do better outside the division this year.
Houston is still waiting for next year, though it might be now with Peyton Manning out.
The Texans are 10th in offense and defense.
The Raiders are eighth in offense, but 29th in defense.
That might be the difference.
New York Jets at New England
Tom Brady doesn't lose at home.
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Tom Brady doesn't lose at home. Except in the playoffs.
He hasn't lost a regular season game at home since 2006. However, in 2009 and 2010 the Patriots were one-and-done in the playoffs. Both were at home.
Last year was extra painful since they were the No.1 seed, and they lost to the Jets.
This was after beating them 45-3 in a regular season game a few weeks before.
The Patriots are their usual selves: first in offense, last in defense.
The Jets on the other hand, are falling apart, and the NFL did them no favors by giving them a three-game road trip so early.
So far, it has been a disaster. After losing at Oakland, they lost ugly at Baltimore.
The ugliness from Baltimore—seven first downs, 150 total yards, four turnovers and three Baltimore defensive touchdowns.
They need to get better—fast.
Tampa Bay at San Francisco
Josh Freeman continues to get better.
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This might be the best matchup of the day, though it won't get the attention of some other games.
Few expected these two teams to be 3-1 at this point. Both are contenders now, and both have beaten teams who have owned them the past few years.
Tampa Bay had lost to Atlanta five straight, and the 49ers had dropped five in a row to the Eagles.
The last three games QB Josh Freeman has proven himself worthy of the '09 first-round pick. He has brought his team back from 17 points down on the road in Minnesota, he beat Atlanta for the first time, and Monday night he came from 10 points down to beat Indianapols.
The 49ers have done it in all three phases.
Against Seattle it was a kickoff and a punt return in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. It was defense in Cincinnati, and three second half touchdowns in Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay has the better offense, and there is only a 40-yard difference on defense.
The game may come down to how well Josh Freeman plays on the road.
Chicago at Detroit
Detroit Lions: Comeback Kings.
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This is the Detroit Lions coming out party; it is the Bears duty to try to spoil it.
Most of the talk will center on the Lions, and for good reason.
For most of America, the only time we see the Lions is on Thanksgiving Day. They haven't played on Monday Night in 10 years.
The Lions have come far, fast. Going back to last season, they have won eight in a row.
To appreciate the significance of that, consider this: before this streak, they had gone 5-47 in their last 52 games. That includes the infamous 0-16 of 2008.
It was expected that the Lions would be better, but no one expected this.
This game will be all about Detroit. It will be up to them to show America that they are worthy of the talk.